Palm-Devices as Educational Tools: A Review of Potentials and Applications

August 7, 2006

In recent years, new palm-devices have been introduced to the market that have greatly increased the potential for distributed and mobile learning. No longer students and teachers are tethered to communication lines, since these devices are wireless, nor they are hindered by bulky equipment that are not portable.

This means that students can fan out to the field, and engage in new individual or collaborative learning activities that may involve data collection and analysis in various forms from oral history to collecting signals from sensors embedded in specific locations indoors or outdoors.

As this review of literature about the topic indicates, the range of the reach of the student and the teacher is greatly expanded. The review also highlights that the use of mobile devices are in their early stage of development in education, and although they show great promise much research is needed to understand their unique affordances and applications.

Nevertheless, with millions of them in circulation, they offer a natural means of communication and have far reaching ramifications for teaching and learning. The report also caution against technological determinism.

Potent technologies are necessary to introduce innovation to educational environments, but they are not sufficient. Innovation is introduced by imaginative educators and students and not by equipment.

This timely Special Report provides you with the necessary background when considering the use of palm-devices for teaching and learning and leads you to critical literature on the topic.

Farhad Saba, Ph. D.